Deception over Lockerbie

By way of deception, shalt thou wage war.

— motto of Mossad, Israel’s Intelligence Service

The scenes of flag-waving Libyans welcoming home Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the man known as the Lockerbie bomber, further discredited Muslims in the minds of many. For those whose knowledge of the story is derived mainly from TV news, it appeared to be a callous celebration of mass murder, lending credence to the belief that “Islam” and “terrorism” are virtually synonymous. A closer look at the facts surrounding the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, however, reveals a pattern of deception by those who have most to gain from making Muslims look bad.

While the news reports dutifully recorded the protestations of outrage by Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and others at what appeared to be an unseemly hero’s welcome for a convicted terrorist, they neglected to mention that Libyans were celebrating the release of a countryman whom they believe had been wrongfully imprisoned for eight years. Also omitted from the reports was any indication that informed observers of Megrahi’s case in Britain and elsewhere are likewise convinced of his innocence.

Robert Black, the University of Edinburgh law professor who was the architect of the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, says that “no reasonable tribunal could have convicted Megrahi on the evidence led,” and calls his 2001 conviction “an absolute and utter outrage.” Prof. Black likens the Scottish trial judges to the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass who “believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Hans Köchler, a UN-appointed observer at the trial, states that “there is not one single piece of material evidence linking the two accused to the crime,” and condemns the court’s verdict as a “spectacular miscarriage of justice.” And Dr. Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was one of the 270 killed on December 21, 1988, dismisses the prosecution’s case against Megrahi and fellow Libyan Lamin Khalifa F’hima as “a cock and bull story.”

According to that “cock and bull story,” Megrahi, the head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA), conspired with Lamin Khalifa F’hima, the station manager for LAA in Malta (who was acquitted), to put a suitcase bomb on a flight from Malta to Frankfurt. At Frankfurt, the lethal suitcase had to be transferred to another flight bound for London Heathrow. Then in Heathrow Airport, it would have to be transferred for a second time onto the ill-fated Flight 103 destined for New York.

But for that rather implausible scenario to be true, the Libyans would have to have had an inordinate faith in the reliability of baggage handlers in two of Europe’s busiest airports at one of the busiest times of the year. Less optimistic would-be bombers would surely have slipped the bomb-laden suitcase on board in London. Fueling suspicions that this is indeed what happened, investigating police were told by a security guard at Heathrow that the Pan Am baggage storage area had been broken into on the night of the bombing.

The reported break-in at Heathrow was part of 600 pages of new and deliberately suppressed evidence that Megrahi’s defense could present at an appeal, which in 2007 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, after a three-year investigation, recommended he be granted.

But before that appeal could be heard, the compassionate release of Megrahi, suffering from terminal prostate cancer, conveniently spared the potential embarrassment of all those involved in his dubious conviction. More significantly, it also averted awkward questions being raised, in the likely event of the Libyan being acquitted, about who actually planted the bomb, and why.

Reel Bad Muslims

Many of those who doubt Libya’s responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, perhaps not surprisingly in the current climate, tend to suspect other Muslim countries of involvement. The most popular theory is that Iran hired the Syrian-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) led by Ahmed Gibril to avenge the “accidental” shooting down by the USS Vincennes on July 3, 1988 of Iran Air Flight 655, which killed all 288 civilians on board.

Others believe that Abu Nidal, the founder of the infamous Black September terrorist group, may have been involved. If they’re right, it raises disturbing questions about who was ultimately responsible for the Lockerbie atrocity. In his fine biography of Nidal, A Gun for Hire, British journalist Patrick Seale confirms long-held suspicions that many in the Middle East have had about the “Palestinian terrorist” who did more than anyone to discredit the Palestinian cause. “Abu Nidal was undoubtedly a Mossad agent,” Seale asserts. “Practically every job he did benefited Israel.”

Interestingly, one theory which has the PFLP-GC collaborating with Abu Nidal on behalf of Iran, has been espoused by a former Mossad staffer, Yuval Aviv, whose New York-based investigative agency, Interfor, prepared a report for Pan Am’s insurers on the Lockerbie bombing.

Writing under the pen name Sam Green, Aviv also authored Flight 103, a fictional account of the Lockerbie tragedy he claims is “based solidly on real-life facts,” in which the vengeful Iranians enlist a Palestinian terrorist, Ahmed ‘The Falcon’ Shabaan, to do their dirty work. Aviv, who inspired Steven Spielberg’s Munich, hopes his director friend will convert his Lockerbie tale into another Hollywood blockbuster.

Hardly any mainstream commentators, however, have questioned the trustworthiness of a former Mossad agent, who retains close ties with the intelligence service, fingering Palestinians and Iran for a terrorist attack which killed 189 Americans, thereby blackening the reputation of two of Israel’s greatest foes in the minds of those it wishes to convince that the U.S. and Israel face a common enemy.

Dirty Tricks

Not everyone in the media has been as naive about Israeli machinations though. Writing in the Guardian just before the trial of the two Libyans, veteran American journalist Russell Warren Howe, in an excellent article titled “What if they are innocent?” analyses whether the Iranian government, Palestinian terrorists or Israeli intelligence were more likely perpetrators. Howe concludes, “Even if Megrahi and F’hima are found guilty of the most serious charges, there would still be a need for a new investigation: to decide what was Israel’s possibly major role in mass murder and deception of its main benefactor, the US.” Howe is suggesting that even if the Libyans, or other Arabs, had actually planted the bomb, they may still have been duped into doing so by Israeli agents.

Intriguingly, Howe cites a reference in Gordon Thomas’ book on Mossad, Gideon’s Spies,to a Mossad officer stationed in London who showed up in Lockerbie the morning after the crash to arrange for the removal of a suitcase from the crime scene. The suitcase, said to belong to Captain Charles McKee, a DIA officer who was killed on the flight, was later returned “empty and undamaged.”

Moreover, the idea of Libyan responsibility, Howe notes, seems to have originated in Israel. Again, he quotes Thomas, who says that a source at LAP, Mossad’s psychological warfare unit, informed him that “within hours of the crash, staff at LAP were working the phones to their media contacts urging them to publicise that here was ‘incontrovertible proof’ that Libya, through its intelligence service, Jamahirya, was culpable.”

It may also have been Mossad disinformation, Howe suspects, that induced the U.S. government to believe the Libyans were guilty. The day after the Lockerbie bombing, U.S. intelligence intercepted a radio message from Tripoli to a Libyan government office in Berlin that effectively said, “mission accomplished.”

Two years earlier, a similar message intercept had induced Ronald Reagan to order air strikes against Libya, killing over a hundred people, including Qaddafi’s two-year-old adopted daughter. But the message had been faked by Israel, according to Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad case officer, who described the operation in The Other Side of Deception, the second of two exposés he wrote about the Mossad after leaving the service.

Operation Trojan began in February 1986 when the Mossad secretly installed a communications device known as a “Trojan” in an apartment in Tripoli. The Trojan received messages broadcast by Mossad’s LAP on one frequency and automatically transmitted them on a different frequency used by the Libyan government. “Using the Trojan,” Ostrovsky writes, “the Mossad tried to make it appear that a long series of terrorist orders were being transmitted to various Libyan embassies around the world.” U.S. intelligence, as anticipated by the Israelis, intercepted the bogus messages, and believed them to be authentic — especially after receiving confirmation from the Mossad.

Within weeks of the Trojan being installed, two American soldiers were killed in an explosion at La Belle Discothèque, a nightclub in West Berlin frequented by U.S. servicemen. Assuming that Libya was responsible, nine days later the U.S. dropped 60 tons of bombs on Tripoli and Benghazi. Few suspected that the Americans had been tricked into the “retaliation” by Israel, whose subterfuge had punished Qaddafi for his support of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and further alienated the U.S from the Arab world.

Not all Americans are oblivious to Israeli wiles, however. Commenting on the Israeli intelligence service’s penchant for deception, Andrew Killgore, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, wrote in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, “Mossad’s specialty was dirty tricks… Its modus operandi had always been the same: pull off a dirty trick but make it appear somebody else had done it.”

As part of any new investigation to establish whether or not the Lockerbie bombing was another one of the Mossad’s “dirty tricks,” detectives might want to interview Issac Yeffet, the former chief of security for the Israeli airline, El Al, who in 1986 was commissioned by Pan Am to survey its security at a number of airports worldwide. As Killgore, in a separate article for the Washington Report, suggestively noted: “Yeffet may have been successful in maintaining perfect security for El Al at Ben-Gurion Airport. But his efforts at Heathrow Airport in London, one of the airports he surveyed for Pan Am, and to which he and his employees had full rein, failed to save Pan Am Flight 103.”

Still protesting his innocence, the dying Megrahi told reporters on his release, “The truth never dies.” That may be so. But as long as the Western media continue to believe that only Israel’s enemies would blow up a civilian airliner, the truth about Lockerbie is unlikely to ever reach a very wide audience.

Maidhc Ó Cathail writes extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. Read other articles by Maidhc, or visit Maidhc's website.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Frank Duggan said on September 24th, 2009 at 5:53pm #

    My fther always said there is nothing thicker than a dumb Irishman.
    Frank Duggan. President
    Victims of Pan Am 103, Inc.
    (a smart Irishman)

  2. brian said on September 25th, 2009 at 12:50am #

    yes, indeed…was israel involved?Most likely…
    iran + syria + palestine = israel…

    Given the latest shameful display of obsequiesness by western nations walking out of Ahmadinejad speech when he spoke on israel, ,Israel will only grown bolder and bolder with its crimes and atrocities.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 25th, 2009 at 1:32am #

    The truth about Lockerbie was known long ago. At the time it was published openly in the mainstream media, and various books published that outlined the details. I remember an excellent documentary that was shown on local TV. The involvement of Iran, in revenge for the deliberate downing of the Iranian airbus by the Vincennes (the captain was awarded a medal and the ship’s crew received a rapturous reception on returning to San Diego-some ‘accident’!)using the PFLP, and facilitated by the penetration of a US Drug Enforcement Agency operation, was all generally accepted. When Iran and Syria were required to co-operate with the destruction of Iraq, the media suddenly developed amnesia. The prior narrative disappeared immediately and totally, illustrating, yet again, the totalitarian uniformity of thought, and the moral turpitude of the Western media.
    Libya was shaken down for billions (which explains, in part, the hysteria of the Yankee victims’ families, no doubt worried that Libyan innocence might require paying back the blackmail payments), in stark contrast to the passengers from the Iranian airbus, or the Libyans killed when Israel shot down a Libyan passenger jet, in cold blood, over the Sinai in 1973. Still some souls are more precious than others, haven’t you heard, and can be cashed in for vastly greater amounts.
    Israeli intelligence involvement is clearly possible. After all they have form, are ruthless and murderous enough, and can rely on the Judaic controlled Western media sewer to suppress any unfortunate revelations. I mean, how many in the West have heard of the ‘celebrating Israelis’ leaping for joy as the Twin Towers collapsed, or ex-President Cossiga of Italy’s blunt assertion that Mossad and the CIA were behind 9/11 and everyone in European intelligence knows it.
    Clearly al-Megrahi’s release had nothing to do with ‘compassion’. It was to thwart the appeal and the near certain overturning of the original, vicious and immoral ‘judgment’ that disgraced Scottish ‘justice’. The reaction of the US Right, and its arse-lickers everywhere, was typically psychotic, with much spitting of venom and vitriol in the familiar fashion. When the truth of al-Megrahi’s innocence is so plain, the behaviour of the media vermin is truly revolting but absolutely predictable. We are dealing with creatures who exist to hate and revile, who would love to find some excuse to ‘shock and awe’ Libya just for the fiendish delight in killing ‘rag-heads’, a bloodlust that the millions killed in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan has not sated one iota.
    I expect that after a decent interval, the Western media ghouls will suddenly ‘re-discover’ Iran’s role in Lockerbie, as another brick in the wall of hysterical demonising against Iran, preparatory for Iran’s ‘obliteration’ as the female Clinton revealing put it. The time-line ends next February 28th, as the Israelis love celebrating the festival of Purim, itself commemorating an ancient massacre, with a slaughter. I’d say that by November or December that we will be regaled by scoops of fearless ‘investigative’ journalism, revealing Iran’s responsibility, perhaps with that flair for lying that we well know from Israeli practise exhibited by some stunning discovery that Ahmadinejad himself planted the bomb, or some such tosh.

  4. kalidas said on September 25th, 2009 at 8:05am #

    By way of deception thou shalt wage religion.

  5. mary said on September 25th, 2009 at 4:56pm #

    There is a excellent analysis of the Al Megrahi case by Gareth Pierce in the London Review of Books. She is a British human rights lawyer.

    Her forensic work ends with –

    Al-Megrahi’s trial constituted a unique legal construct, engineered to achieve a political rapprochement, but its content was so manipulated that in reality there was only ever an illusion of a trial. Dr Köchler recorded at its conclusion that it was ‘not fair’ and that it was not ‘conducted in an objective manner’, so that there were ‘many more questions and doubts at the end than the beginning’. Since then, these doubts have not disappeared: on the contrary, the questions are graver, the doubts have grown and so has the strength of the evidence on which they are based. Köchler’s observations continue to have compelling relevance; he found the respect of the court, the defence lawyers included, for the ‘shrouds of secrecy’ and ‘national security considerations’ to be ‘totally incomprehensible to any rational observer’. ‘Proper judicial procedure,’ he continued, ‘is simply impossible if political interests and intelligence services – from whichever side – succeed in interfering in the actual conduct of a court.’

    The term miscarriage of justice carries with it the inference of accident, but also of death. There is a pressing need to investigate in detail how it has come about that there has been a form of death in this case – the death of justice – and who should be found responsible.

    This excerpt sets the thought processes running –
    “It was precisely 38 minutes after Pan Am Flight 103 took off from Heathrow on 21 December 1988 that it exploded over Lockerbie. Within hours, the countryside around Lockerbie was occupied: local people helping with the search under the supervision of Dumfries and Galloway police realised to their astonishment that the terrain was dotted with unidentified Americans not under the command of the local police….scores of men, some wearing no insignia, some the insignia of the FBI and Pan Am (it was noted at the time that many of these men were clearly not Pan Am staff), invaded the area. Lockerbie residents reported seeing unmarked helicopters hovering overhead, carrying men with rifles whose telescopic sights were pointing directly at them.”

    Presumably only those who planted the bomb, and those who knew that it had been planted, were in a position to know that it would detonate precisely 38 minutes after takeoff. It would be simple for them – but not for anyone else – to calculate approximately where the explosion would happen. But, says Pierce, within hours the disaster scene was inundated with Americans, some wearing FBI insignia, others unidentified. Where did they come from? How did they get to Lockerbie so quickly, if they had no inkling or premonition of a plot? One is driven to surmise that those who did plant the bomb could well have been the unwitting patsies of a ‘false flag’ operation. No wonder the USA doesn’t want the case to be re-examined.

    The comment above is from Craig Murray’s piece on Al Megrahi

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 26th, 2009 at 3:00pm #

    mary, the facts were known from the very start. That the media lie-machine simply follows orders to the letter, and can become stone deaf and totally blind at the drop of a hat, is a triumph of Pavlovian conditioning. The media reptiles learn what to pretend is not there, and what to see, even if invisible, on Murdoch or some other Judeofascist’s preference, or they are purged ‘to encourage the others’. Of course, the initial selection process is careful, and, increasingly in Murdoch’s archipelago of lies here, the Likudnik Judeofascist or ‘Sabbat goy’ sympathiser is the preferred type. Ideological correctness is ensured from the beginning, and a quasi-religious devotion to ‘the cause’. These scum are now cranking up the lies over Iran, in an exact re-run of the tsunami of lies and half-truths that we were smeared with during 2002, against Iraq, led by the same Judeofascists and their enthusiastic stooges. Indeed in Murdoch’s flag-ship in this country, ‘The Australian’ aka ‘The Fundament’,the demands that Obama ‘obliterate’ (in Clinton’s revealing expression) Iran are reaching hysterical levels.And not one media scumbag has the basic decency to jump up and shout ‘Enough’ as the preparations are laid to kill thousands, if not millions of Iranians. The comparison with Die Sturmer, Goebbels, Streicher and Nazi journalism seems to me an insult-to the Nazis!

  7. Ruisu said on November 26th, 2009 at 5:09am #

    Wow. Of course I’m aware of the inadequacies of the main stream press, but I’ve been slowly discovering the genuine alternatives. Just read this (Nov.23rd) following another link. I’m just a relatively normal person who is dedicated to learning the truth. I’m slowly becoming educated through Maidhc’s and other people’s selfless work in unburying such deceptions by the power-holders. Emphatic thanks to all of you.